Friday, May 31, 2013

What does that mean?

 source photo

Recently I started watching "So You Think You Can Dance." A show I haven't watched for years, some because my husband doesn't care for it, and some because I just never caught it enough to care about the contestants.  But I used to love it and as I was watching I remembered why I loved it.  I loved it because they are a group of artists and I love and understand their desire to take a feeling on the inside and express it on the out side.  I wouldn't say I'm "an artist," even though I have a bachelor's degree in it, because if I learned anything from school I learned I'm not good enough (whatever that means) to call myself that but I do have that artistic personality and relate to these performers. As I'm watching these kids create I become super sad that I've been ignoring that side of myself for years now.  I never create, unless creating a human being counts, cause I've done that :)

I graduated from college super happy to be done.  Because although I love learning so much, I hated being a part of a major that was so incredibly rigid.  The message of my art teachers was "do it like this or don't do it."  And I basically spent that whole time trying to fit my square peg into their round hole.  Doesn't that sound totally backward for art, something most people would call vague and hard to define.  Well let me tell you someone has a definition, they didn't tell me what exactly it was but just that I didn't have it.  So I put it all away.  I didn't touch it, I didn't look at it, and I surely did not display it.  Things that I loved became my shame.  And the kicker is, is that I worked my way through school, paying for...this.  ha ha.  But I moved on.  Around this time I got engaged and my mind and heart was filled with new dreams and hopes.  I didn't miss it.

Once I was married I had a new identity.  I was now a wife, which meant that my mindset was on my hubby and taking care of him and being a good partner.  And I also was slapped with a new label "pastor's wife." Yikes what does that even mean, I still don't know, but again one thing I was sure of was I wasn't doing that right either.  My hubby and I knew nothing.  We were at a small close knit church and we went into it like little babies.  The head Pastor was not a good mentor because he basically encouraged us to be like he and his wife, co-leaders, partners, every thing my hubby and I should not be, but we had no clue there was any other way.  Don't get me wrong my hubby and I love each other, we just are not meant to be co-leaders.  I love supporting him but being out of the spot light.  And I love being involved in my own things.  It was terrible for us.  We fought every Wednesday on the way to Wednesday night youth group.  We'd be yelling, open our doors, get out and say "Hey!" with big old fake smiles.  It was an icky point in our super young marriage.  During this time I lost a baby my husband had scary health issues, and all the while we were encouraged by our "mentor" to do the job, complete the task, preform our duties as Pastor and Pastor's Wife.  So hard, I don't even know how we came out of that! Yes I do, God!

Ah well life moved on as we quickly realized that even though we were forming bonds with the families of that church it was not a good fit for us.  Then we decided to move to the bay area for the first time and become live on campus seminary people.  Whatever that means, again I don't know but we always felt very isolated, mostly because no one else had any experience in ministry and we just had a terrible one.  It was hard for us not to be bitter at that time or at least cynical.  But this was also the time when I became something I've always wanted to be, a mother! Oh how I loved it, and still love it.  I am obsessed with him!  The more I get to know him the more I like that little man of mine.  But even as happy as I was I still feel like I am missing something.  I miss myself.

As a mom we devote ourselves almost entirely to others.  Even if you're not working (as I am not) your entire day revolves around taking care of others.  It's so easy to not do anything for yourself.  I think that is a struggle for most mom's. I know that my sisters and I talk about not showering very much because we are too tired to care about it.  It's a good thing because we are focusing on what really matters but it's a bad thing if like me, you don't do anything for yourself.  I fantasize about what I will do with myself when my kids are in school.  I love that my son is a little older and I can entertain ideas of things that are just for me.   I crave the time when I can rediscover and define my identity beyond wife and mother.  Why can't I do this now...I'm just too tired.  Babies are a lot of work and I'm afraid I don't have as much energy as other moms do.  Right now I have to choose to take care of them to the best of my ability over my artistic side.  One day though.  One day :)

Do you ever feel like you have a label on you, that you just don't quite understand yet?  This could very well just be me, maybe not though...      

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Letter to the Taylor Swift Generation

Dear Sisters,
When I think of Taylor Swift I think that she is beautiful, talented, passionate about women, and an influential figure in the lives of girls in the teens and twenty-somethings.  When I was in college she was just emerging on to the music scene with some sad songs dealing with break-ups and some really sweet and happy songs about being in love.  As I watched her career evolve I have seen her shift from the hope of a fairytale romance to writing a songs dedicated to a nameless ex-boyfriend who did her wrong and at first I enjoyed with glee as I too have wished to rip and ex apart in such a public way.  But the more she went on to write a song about yet another ill-fated romance the more I started to cringe.

I started seriously dating at 21, which is really late by most standards.  But I was pretty shy and a bit of a late bloomer so it took me that long to feel confident enough to put myself out there.  Also as a Christian girl I felt very aware of the fact that in order to maintain my purity while dating I needed to be strong in myself before entering such a confusing and emotionally charged stage of life.  I found my husband by the end of my 23rd year, but I crammed a lot in those years.  One thing I can say as I look back on those years is that I was Taylor.  Every time one of my dating relationships ended I didn't write a "pay-back" song but I did verbally eviscerate every one of them.  Tearing these guys to shreds believing myself to be justified because they had "done me wrong" in some way.  I was really proud of myself too, no I wasn't making millions with my fiery words, but it felt good that I could just say whatever I wanted and never have to see them again.

Taylor Swift said in an interview with 60 Minuets that she believes she is responsible for "raising the next generation" through her music.  Which don't get me wrong much of her music is positive and lovely.  But I have a problem with these "revenge" songs.  My problem is how being like this makes you feel later.  Years later. I look back on all the conversations I used to be so proud of and I am so ashamed and dissapointed with myself.  Because those bad habits have made their way into my marriage.  When my husband and I have an argument my vicious tongue comes out and I can say some hurtful things.  The problem with that is that I love my husband and it's not like I'm not going to see him ever again, I live with him!

What I wish I would have done when I was dating is be graceful.  Not in like a good coordination kind of way but in offering that person a forgiving hand.  (Or in the very least kept my mouth shut!)  Because dating is what it is, you get hurt and you also hurt others too, not matter how hard you try not to, it's the risk you take when you're looking for love.  However, you hurt and get hurt when you're married too.  It's not like that goes away! And there is always going to be an opportunity to handle being hurt by slicing down your spouse or handle your hurt with grace.  I will tell you that giving grace feels so much better and eviscerating leaves you both hurting later.

As I prepare to have a daughter in just a few weeks I know that I am responsible for guiding her as best I can to be a beautiful person on the inside out.  I just want her to learn from my mistakes and forgive and offer grace all the time.  We all need to be forgiven, we all need understanding from others because we are all constantly making mistakes.  Girls, dating is hard.  I get that.  I know what it is to be cry like a baby in your mom's arms at 21 years old.  But for your own well being and for the health of your future relationships, don't be like me, have your cry but hold your tongue and give grace instead of a biting word.  Hugs to all!